Story from Debbie, who bought a studio in Paris.
A little over three years ago, a dream came true when I bought an apartment in Paris. A French friend referred me to her realtor, who luckily knew agents all over town; otherwise I would have had to go from agency to agency to find out what each had to offer, since there is no central listing service like we have in the US. The legal formalities were similar to those in America, but much more ceremonial. At the closing, the Notaire read the “Acte de vente” out loud, all 30-odd pages!
My apartment is in the 6th Arrondissement, not too far from the Gare Montparnasse, on rue Notre Dame des Champs. The neighborhood has its share of tourists, but you also sense that “real” Parisians live there. There is an open-air market every Wednesday and Saturday morning, the absolute best Monoprix in Paris is across the street from the train station, and, the selling point for me, the Luxembourg Garden is only two blocks away.
So far, I haven’t been able to stay for an extended period, so I don’t know many of my neighbors beyond exchanging a “Bonjour Madame, Monsieur” in the hallway. I was able to go to the annual homeowners’ association meeting this year. American business person that I am, I expected the management company would come with a two-page budget, and maybe a PowerPoint presentation comparing the building’s expenses over a three-year period. Oh là là NO! We spent three and a half hours scrutinizing each and every centime of communal expense, and shaking our heads as several angry owners stormed out in a huff after their projects were voted down.
Winning over my building’s concierge has been my biggest project to date. Madame was quite upset with me at first because she has rules for workmen and mine didn’t follow them (who knew you were always supposed to put a drop cloth on the hallway floor in front of your door, no matter what you were doing inside?!). Other workers messier than mine and my annual Christmas tip (which in France you give with wishes for the New Year) have finally succeeded in softening her up — and it undoubtedly helps that, thanks to Céline at Learn French at Home, my French has improved ten-fold!
I look forward to being able to spend more time in my little piece of Paris. I like the rhythm of French life — the ritual of the greetings when you enter and leave a store, meals at fixed times, everyone watching the news at 8pm, no shopping on Sundays — compared to the hectic pace of my normal routine. Even the strikes don’t bother me. So what if the métro doesn’t run for a day or two? It means no wait at the laundromat — everyone will be busy marching!